NEW DELHI: Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday said that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was not under financial strain.The minister’s comments come days after reports in the media said that the Prime Minister’s Office was not happy with the NHAI’s splurging spree. “The media’s reports on the NHAI’s stressed finances are untrue,” he said.
Gadkari said that his track record showed that he had always been successful in building roads. “I have always been able to raise money for project, be it Mumbai-Pune Expressway or Bandra-Worli Sealink. We have very healthy internal rates of return; there is no problem for money,” he said on the sidelines of an event held to discuss the completion of 100 days of the Narendra Modi government’s second term.
The transport minister said that revenues from NHAI roads were on the rise and traffic density was expected to increase. “Even in times of a slowdown, our traffic density expectations are rising. The finance minister has asked me to keep awarding road projects,” he said.
Gadkari said he will soon be making a list of 450 projects of NHAI and tabulating the costs of land acquisition, construction and whether it has the necessary regulatory approvals, and move ahead only when all the points have green ticks.“We have enough money coming from foreign pension funds, private equity funds who want to buy roads (under the toll-operate-transfer model),” Gadkari said adding that there was no more need for budgetary support to build roads.
Projects worth `5 lakh crore by year-end
Gadkari affirmed that NHAI will be announcing projects worth `5 lakh crore by the end of the year. The projects will be executed under all the models, including toll-operate-transfer, engineering, procurement construction and also build-operate-transfer. NHAI is targeting to build 4,500 km of roads in FY20 against 3,900 km in the year-ago period.